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With single gene insertion, blind mice regain sight

Article written by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley

John Flannery.


Berkeley Optometry Professor John Flannery in his lab at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute on the UC Berkeley campus.
It was surprisingly simple. University of California, Berkeley, scientists inserted a gene for a green-light receptor into the eyes of blind mice and, a month later, they were navigating around obstacles as easily as mice with no vision problems. They were able to see motion, brightness changes over a thousandfold range and fine detail on an iPad sufficient to distinguish letters.

The researchers say that, within as little as three years, the gene therapy — delivered via an inactivated virus — could be tried in humans who’ve lost sight because of retinal degeneration, ideally giving them enough vision to move around and potentially restoring their ability to read or watch video.

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